Review: 2022 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible
Tug the right paddle shifter, spin the supercharged V-8 to roughly 3700 rpm, and any assumptions of the F-Type R’s biscuit-munching British reserve evaporate. Jaguar envisioned it as a spiritual successor to the E-Type, one of the brand’s proudest achievements. In attitude and in raison d’etre, however, this 575-hp open-top animal has more in common with a Challenger Hellcat.
There’s the age of the platform, for one. The F-Type is now in its ninth model year, powered by the third generation of a raucous V-8 that is the result of Jaguar’s prior ownership under Ford in the Premier Auto Group. Like the 15-year-old Challenger, the F-Type evokes a legendary, marque-defining ancestor in both name and silhouette. Each car is also integral to the current identity of its brand and is (or will be) one of the final combustion-powered models standing in the company’s portfolio.
The Jaguar is an expensive, romantic version of an already indulgent recipe that began with the first F-Type R for 2014. Now doomed to die by 2025, when the brand is promising to go all-electric (Jaguar won’t release a single new car until then), it’s one of the last V-8-powered two-seaters still on the market. A high-performance weekender like this is, by definition, an emotional purchase.
The more you live with the Jaguar, the more obvious it becomes that emotion is the essential ingredient. Cost of entry is expensive: At $120K, our optioned-out tester cost nearly twice as much as a 707-hp Challenger Hellcat. That supercharged V-8 can shout as lout as a Hemi, but the Hellcat motor accepts 87 octane; the Brit demands no less than 91. The F-Type has no rear seats, a minuscule trunk, and the interior is straight-up cramped. In an age when compromise of any kind is a fatal flaw, the Jaguar falls flat. Most customers will be happier with a C8 Corvette, AMG GT, or a 911.
But if you can afford to use your heart and not your brain, you just might fall in love with this aging Brit.
From the beginning, the F-Type was a harder-core vehicle than the XK it replaced. The top-tier XKR came with a supercharged V-8 as well, but the more tame design and 2+2 configuration spoke to its grand-tourer-cum-sporting-coupe attitude. 2011’s C-X16 concept promised a pugnacious two-seater, and, three years later, the F-Type delivered: Hagerty contributor Don Sherman, then writing for Car and Driver, pronounced it “the roughest-riding Jaguar ever and a roadster ready for track day.” Two years later, in response to public demand, Jaguar even added a manual transmission. It was available only on the supercharged V-6 model and dropped in 2020, one year before a facelift introduced a turbo-four base model.
As of 2022, both the turbo-four and six-cylinder engines are absent from the F-Type menu. Jag is going all-in with its V-8; the 444-hp P450 and the 575-hp R (the latter replaced the erstwhile SVR for 2021) are the only choices. The car reviewed here is an R ($105,900 +$1150 for destination) stacked with almost $15K in options and standard all-wheel drive. Leading the add-on list is the fascinating metallic taupe paint ($4450), a black trim package ($2500), and every scrap of leather available ($2500).
That Jaguar actually charges for two-zone climate control and heated seats/steering wheel ($1125) on a six-figure car—the apex of the lineup, no less—feels stingy. Is there another luxury convertible that demands $615 extra for a fully electric top? If you must, take a minute to pity Coventry, which has sold 27,127 F-Types in the United States since 2013. Porsche sells about that many 911s every three years, and Chevy sold 33,000 Corvettes in 2021 alone.
The interior doesn’t look much different than it did at launch nearly a decade ago, despite the addition of a digital gauge cluster in 2021. If your spouse happens to own an F-Pace, prepare to be outdone; the SUV comes in SVR trim with the same yowling V-8, starts below $100K, and everything you touch inside is Alcantara or leather or brushed aluminum. There is no comparison between the grainy, OLED affair you get in the F-Type and the F-Pace’s sensitive, high-resolution touchscreen glass running JLR’s much-improved Blackberry-based infotainment. After much thought, we agree with Jaguar that plastic climate-control dials make far more sense in a convertible than aluminum, which would heat in direct sun. Had the F-Type resisted screens entirely and gone full-send on the old-school, leather-upholstered aesthetic, it would have been more appealing than this cramped cabin, populated by a mediocre sound system and unremarkable 10-inch screen.
You won’t want to spend a ton of highway time in this car. The suspension is too taut, the chassis too rigid. North of 60 mph, the combination reads as nervous and fussy. Visibility is poor with the softtop raised, especially out the back. (An argument for the coupe, enhanced by the hardtop’s seamlessly beautiful silhouette.) The stereo has a kill-joy habit of cutting treble in the presence of heavy bass. The OLED screen washes completely out in direct sun and is easily flummoxed by rapid inputs, expressing its confusion via a rainbow of visual static. In cruising attitude, it’s virtually everything the E-Type isn’t.
Aaaand you won’t care. The wind will be in your hair, the sun on your neck, and your giggles drowned by that bewitching, angry V-8.
Wrapped in such unassuming, elegant sheetmetal, the F-Type’s banshee howl is all the more unexpected—and absolutely delightful. Even a base C8 Corvette presents as supercar, but the top-spec F-Type simply looks like a convertible to most passers-by. Slink through downtown, sipping on 460 lb-ft of torque, and few will remark. Stiff ride aside, neither the brakes nor the steering will distract from such a low-key mission. The traditional, torque-converter eight-speed, while not as creamy-smooth as a C8’s dual-clutch transmission, will nudge you about with little drama. Should you wish, however, such lack of attention to your presence is easily solved: Above 3700 rpm, the 5.0-liter shrieks like something unholy—that, perhaps, shouldn’t be loose in the daylight. Hit the back roads on a cool summer night, and you’ll be savoring the security of an exhaust that could vaporize most deer in a 100-foot radius via sonic pulse. (Not scientifically verified.) The transmission snaps to attention, letting the engine wind gleefully to redline if the gearshift is nudged left into “manual” and marking every gear sforzando. In third gear, the F-Type would easily threaten Texas’ highest speed limits. Our best advice? Choose the convertible, for pure tousled-hair indulgence, and bring some friends in Skittle-colored Hellcats for cover.
To love the aging F-Type, you must see it as a courageous holdout—not as an outdated, stiff, cramped sportster—and admire, rather than resent, its dedication to compromise. Nine years on the market, such discouraging sales, and Jaguar has refused to tame the V-8-powered F-Type by turning it into a cushy, lane-keeping cruiser. On paper, there are better choices. But few sports cars in 2022 sound and look this wonderful. To own one of these is to agree with Selena Gomez, as she sang in the inaugural model year of the F-Type, no less: The heart wants what it wants.
2022 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible
Price: $107,050 / $120,750 (base / as-tested)
Highs: Extroverted, athletic, and glorious-sounding. Wrapped in slinky, understated curves.
Lows: Outdated interior display, cramped cabin when the top is up, exhaust will strike some as immature. Damned expensive, given the competition.
Takeaway: A flawed but nonetheless intoxicating final chapter in Jaguar’s epic romance with internal combustion.